Dwight E. Terry Lectureship Dwight E. Terry Lectureship Dwight E. Terry Lectureship Yale University Dwight E. Terry Lectureship


Full of dark matter collapsing the galaxies into being and dark energy accelerating them apart, the evolving universe, according to 2009-10 Terry lecturers JOEL R. PRIMACK and NANCY ELLEN ABRAMS, has turned out to be wildly more interesting than the image of an empty space scattered with celestial objects. To the extent that people around the world accept scientific reality, they argue, we have grounds for agreement for the first time on a shared creation story based on modern cosmology and biology.

Using astronomical videos, some based on actual observations; others, visualizations of calculations produced by Professor Primack and his team on the some of the world's most powerful supercomputers, the lecturers invite audiences to experience our history and probable future on cosmic scales and, with a clearer understanding of the modern scientific universe, to explore the possibilities for human behavior.

JOEL R. PRIMACK, Professor of Physics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, specializes in the formation and evolution of galaxies and the nature of the dark matter that makes up most of the mass in the universe. Professor Primack received his A.B. from Princeton in 1966 and his Ph.D. from Stanford in 1970. He was a Junior Fellow of the Society of Fellows at Harvard from 1970-3. After helping create what is now called the "Standard Model" of particle physics, Professor Primack began working in cosmology and became a leader in the new field of particle astrophysics. He is one of the principal originators and developers of the theory of Cold Dark Matter, which has become the basis for the standard modern picture of structure formation in the universe. With support from the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Department of Energy, he is currently using supercomputers to simulate and visualize the evolution of the universe under various assumptions. With wife Nancy Abrams, Joel Primack has taught a popular course, "Cosmology and Culture," at UCSC for more than a decade. They are co-authors of the book, "The View from the Center of the Universe: Discovering Our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos," published in 2006.

NANCY ELLEN ABRAMS received a B.A. in the history and philosophy of science from the University of Chicago, a law degree from the University of Michigan, and a diploma in international law from Mexico's Escuela Libre de Derecho. She was a Fulbright Scholar and a Woodrow Wilson Designate.

Ms. Abrams has long been interested in the role of science in shaping politics and has worked in this area for the Ford Foundation and U.S. Congress's Office of Technology Assessment. As a congressional staff member, she helped develop a procedure, "Scientific Mediation," to help government agencies make wise policy decisions in areas where the relevant science is crucial yet uncertain or controversial. Also interested in science's border with myth, Ms. Abrams has worked as a scholar to place the discoveries of modern cosmology into a cultural context and, as a writer and songwriter, to communicate their possible meanings at a deeper level. In addition to the book with husband Joel Primack, she has co-authored articles on quantum cosmology and Kabbalah, as well as numerous articles on science policy, space policy, and cultural implications of modern cosmology.



Cosmic Society: The New Universe and the Human Future

October 20, 2009

"The New Universe"

Click here to view lecture 1.

October 21, 2009

"Stardust Plus Time Equals Us"

Click here to view lecture 2.

October 27, 2009

"This Cosmically Pivotal Moment"

Click here to view lecture 3.


October 28, 2009

"Cosmic Society"

Click here to view lecture 4.